2012 Channel Champions: Midrange Servers

Channel partners said Cisco had the best evaluation and demo policies, and also gave the third-place vendor kudos for its ability to help increase VAR sales. But IBM, which placed first last year also, was the clear winner in technical and support satisfaction ratings.

"Seventy percent of our revenue is achieved through business partners, and they continue to be a critical element in our strategy as we continue to grow share," said Tony DeVore, vice president of global sales for Power systems. DeVore said IBM had invested heavily in the Power server architecture, as far back as the early 1990s.

"What our partners are seeing is [the result of] that significant investment in systems software. The systems software is truly delivering real business value to clients as they implement highly virtual environments that are scalable and available," he said. "In addition, some of the new system software products we released in the second half of the year around security and compliance help clients have peace of mind knowing they have systems that are both auditable and secure."

Mark Wylie, CEO of Flagship Solutions Group, Boca Raton, Fla., agrees that IBM's win is due not only to the vendor's R&D investment in chip technology, but also to the software side, which developed an integrated service management portfolio.

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"IBM has made strategic investments via acquisition, but also in terms of the core products," he said. "IBM Systems Director is a prime example of that investment and where that product is today to provide the core functionality of a cloud solution."